|July 7, 2006|
Beyond the World Cup: "Can You Feel What I Feel Today?"
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
New York, New York: An old "war" in the old world of "Old Europe" is coming to a climax. The World Cup that pits teams from nation states against one another will soon be over, lawd, with one winner emerging as best footballers in the world, for this year at least. Hail and farewell. On to the next spectacle!
These televised combats and upsets have consumed us as millions wear their national colors to cheer on "their" team, their country, and their flag in an exuberant orgy of competing nationalisms.
The Cup brings with it its own consciousness with talk of the men with quick feet as role models and cultural icons. Duleep Allirajah writes in England's Spiked-On Line: "The role model debate perfectly illustrates football's mutation from leisure pursuit into the sporting wing of government social policy. Football -- which, let's not forget, is a fairly simple game in which 22 men try to kick a ball into a net -- is now regarded as a means of solving all kinds of social problems. Football clubs are expected to play their part in crusading against such social and medical ills as racism, homophobia, testicular cancer, truancy and childhood obesity. But the problem is wider than sport's co-option as an instrument for social engineering. Football has come to fill a gap in our lives where once there was engagement with the public sphere. The Fall of Public Man has been offset by the Rise of Soccer Bloke. The contemporary appeal of football is that it generates a sense of belonging, collectivity and identity that moribund institutions such as political parties, trade unions or churches no longer provide. If England do well in the World Cup you will see an outpouring of flag-waving euphoria that more traditional vehicles for nationalistic sentiment, such as military interventions, are simply incapable of creating."
He concludes wisely: "Football is still only a game; a temporary respite from the trials and tribulations of daily life but never a substitute for having a life."
These popular contests also mask a deeper change in the world and substitute for the more intractable conflicts underway and out of sight, at least on TV. Just as the World Cup comes to a close, so is the era of the nation state. Look around: the real battles in the world are not between nations but within them. Look at our own fractured and divided country, the elections in Mexico, the fighting in Iraq, or the battles in Gaza.
The real battleground is beneath the surface where they have always been -- between giant corporate interests, battling brands, warring intelligence agencies, and competing clans and tribes often expressed as racial and gender conflicts.
The identities offered by national entities are barely skin deep and mostly used to manipulate patriotism and pander to flag-waving. No wonder governments love them.
How would you design a Climate Change Cup to get those engaged in destroying the planet "playing" against those trying to save it? Al Gore et.al may be on one team but who would be on the other -- the forest destroyers, the oil companies, the auto manufacturers, the military industrial complex? Would they wear their true colors?
Nero fiddled while Rome burned, but those doing the fiddling today are far less visible. In fact, some of them sponsor athletic competitions. Didn't Enron have a stadium named after it?
Its time for a new World Reality Cup, and I keep thinking of the song that might be played to kick it off, every bit as much like the national anthem echoing daily in every baseball stadium in America.
Remember this prophetic tune by Barry McGuire from the early 60's?
We are feeling new fears today that are just as apocalyptic as the old nuclear terrors. Barry understood that:
"It's just too frustrating?" Yes it is. Perhaps that's why some are looking into the past or into the stars to see the future.
My penpal Wendi Meremark dips into astrology to warn us:
Recall that Sword. The Wikipedia does:
"Impending Doom!" That feeling will stay with us no matter who wins the World Cup.
A BUZZFLASH GUEST CONTRIBUTION
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